Great American Smoke Out Approaching; Quit Smoking Now

The American Cancer Society’s 38th Great American Smoke Out is approaching, and on Nov. 21, Starke County residents are encouraged to drop the habit in celebration of the event. Linda Molenda, coordinator for Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County, said now is the perfect time to quit with the holidays just around the corner.

Drug and Tobacco Free Starke County chairperson Judy Jelinek said the goal is to give smokers the initial push they need in order to beat their nicotine addictions.

“I really think that the Great American Smoke Out is to draw attention to the smokers the need to quit and to set apart one day where they actually try to not smoke and to see how they feel about it. Usually, they realize that they can quit for one day; maybe that will lead to them trying to quit for good,” Jelinek said.

Jelinek has been involved with “Tar Wars,” a program about Tobacco Prevention geared toward 4th and 5th graders – a program that she said aims to cut down on a startling statistic.

“Two percent of all 4th graders nationally smoke,” Jelenik said. “And there’s a program called Tar Wars that directs the prevention education towards 4th graders because these are children that are starting to make choices and decisions about their life. With two percent smoking nationwide, you would want to reduce that and keep them from smoking any more than that.”

Molenda said there is help available for those who want to quit. With nearly one million smokers in the state who wish to quit, the free Indiana Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, is available seven days a week, 365 days a year to provide tips and counseling on how to quit for any Hoosier 18 years and older.

Molenda said the quitline is staffed with professional tobacco cessation coaches, training on helping people quit using tobacco.

Molenda said quitting smoking is critical to improving one’s life at a time when tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the country. Smokers who quit smoking at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy, while those who quit at age 55 gain about five years.

For more information or to get help with tobacco cessation, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit